Monday, 30 June 2014

The bugbears of Ian Watson (part two)

Group chairman Ian Watson has contributed two brand new poems to the NSFWG blog (exclusives!), which are - in his words - "attacking misuse of my bugbear words Actinic and Careening"

The first was posted a fortnight ago (see it on this link) and here's the second...

Careening Towards Alpha C
by Ian Watson

In her hibernation casket on the hundred year journey
Anne dreams, monitored by the ship's A.I. named Nod.
Slumbering crew of six.  Anne was inspired to become
a stellanaut by science fiction stories.  Now she imagines
careening along the corridor as per exciting tales
of emergency situations.  But actually careen means
turning a ship on its side to scrape off barnacles.
Nod quickly surveys the hull—anomaly—
and brings Anne out of hib, using CNS stimulants
then espresso.  Collect from the housekeeping cubicle
one stainless steel scrubber plus one putty knife!
Suit up for first EVA of estimated six!  Why?
Why?  We seem to have barnacles, Anne.
We need to careen!  Nod briefly increases centrifugal spin
to simulate rolling a ship on its side in the void.
Magnetise your boots outside, Anne, use a long tether!
Anne remembers mad HAL.  Compliance may be wise.

Outside, as stars wheel around the hull, Anne discovers
scarcely visible stiff black jelly polyps (sessile ones,
not pedunculated with a stalk) which may be dark matter
—this is a bit like a colonoscopy of interstellar space.
While scrubbing and scraping, Anne collects samples;
returns inside after three hours, job one-sixth complete.
More espresso.  Lab analysis.  Dark matter revealed!
Whatever else the crew may find at Alpha C,
Careening is the climax of Anne's career.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Interviewed: NSFWG Member Susan Sinclair

In order to highlight and showcase the talents of the group members, each of us has completed the same interview.  Hopefully these will be interesting and enlightening and will also include links to websites and books.

Eleventh up is Susan Sinclair.

What made you want to become a writer? 

Instinct, I suppose. I was an awkward solitary kid using my imaginary world as a buffer from a confusing real world. Teachers compelled me to put thoughts onto paper despite dyslexic tendencies and were presented with pages and pages of ill spelt illegible scribble.  Stories with a beginning, middle and no end in sight, enthusiastically illustrated in my rough book.  English language books filled up quickly, rough books even quicker.

What was your first success?

My only properly published story is a short in “Shoes, Ships and Cadavers”. Most of my short stories are miniature epics, often too long to fit any conventional short story slot, while three novels sit on the shelf awaiting the perfect rewrite. It’s not just that I’m scared of rejection, I’m also aware of the stupid writing errors still littering my work.

What do you think the group does for you?

NSFWG is a support group in the real sense of the word.  Not just a polite nod from fellow writers who listened to me read, although friends from these types of group have encouraged me over the years.   NSFWG members offer real constructive appraisal of work they’ve taken time to study. The trick, for me, is to separate their personal preference from actual writing mistakes so as not to be too disheartened if they have a lot to say.

What was your last piece of work?

A friend recently put up a short fantasy romance on kindle, “On the Trail of the Mountain Monkey” which I hope someone might read.

What's coming up from you?

I’m just illustrating another short epic, “The Blackhawk Legacy” so I guess there is another re-write due on that, and my friend will put that up on kindle. Then I’ll just slog slowly on, getting all these weird ideas down before I run out of time.

You can find details of Susan's "On The Trail Of The Mountain Monkey" at this Amazon link

Monday, 16 June 2014

The bugbears of Ian Watson (part one)

Group chairman Ian Watson has contributed two brand new poems to the NSFWG blog (exclusives!), which are - in his words - "attacking misuse of my bugbear words Actinic and Careening"

We'll post the second in a fortnight but, for now, here's...

Actinic: Beware!
by Ian Watson

The portal to elsewhere: a dazzling ravening eldritch blue radiance
destabilising his mind along with his vision,
distorting dimensions.

He'd read of that type of terrible light in stories about explorers
of the Unknown, such as himself, encountering

He announces: "Actinic light ahead!"  His smartsuit consults its sensors
and its vocabulary, which are in conflict—
for actinic is the kiss

Of sunshine upon the petals of a daisy, the bronzing beach caress;
but by default a human being is always

A smartsuit lacks the perceptions and insights of Homo sap.
So it´s actinic, that light.  React accordingly!  Protect!
Adjust suit as required.

Factor 40, to be on the safe side.  He isn't camera film, nor photosynthetic,
but he might get sunburned, or sneeze.

Protected, he advances; encounters hellfire energies;
briefly dances as fluids begin to boil;
jiggles, joggles, splat.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Awards and nominees (both Ian's, in this case)!

Congratulations to Chairman Ian Watson on making the shortlist for the Sidewise Award... with a story workshopped through the group, no less.

Come on, Ian!

The Sidewise Awards are presented to recognize excellence in alternate history and named for Murray Leinster’s 1934 short story “Sidewise in Time,” the winners will be announced at Loncon 3, this year’s Worldcon, in London.

Short Form:
“The Weight of the Sunrise,” by Vylar Kaftan
“A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel,” by Ken Liu
“Tollund,” by Adam Roberts
“Uncertainty,” by Kristine Kathryn Smith
“Cayos in the Stream,” by Harry Turtledove
“Blair’s War,” by Ian Watson

Long Form:
1920: America’s Great War, by Robert Conroy
The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi, by Mark Hodder
The Windsor Faction , by D. J. Taylor
Surrounded by Enemies : What If Kennedy Survived Dallas?, by Bryce Zabel

In further awards news...

As previously mentioned (on this post), NSFWG members Donna Bond and Mark West have been asked to serve on the jury for the British Fantasy Awards, which will be presented this September at FantasyCon in York.  Donna is on the jury for Best Magazine/Periodical and Mark is reading for the Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award) and the shortlists for all awards have now been announced.

For the NSFWG, congratulations to co-Chairman Ian Whates, whose NewCon Press is on the ballet for Best Small Press.

The other nominees:

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Between Two Thorns, Emma Newman (Angry Robot)
Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Glass Republic, Tom Pollock (Jo Fletcher Books)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Headline)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer Press)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)
House of Small Shadows, Adam Nevill (Pan)
Mayhem, Sarah Pinborough (Jo Fletcher Books)
NOS4R2, Joe Hill (Gollancz)
Path of Needles, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher Books)
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)
The Year of the Ladybird, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Novella
Beauty, Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
Dogs With Their Eyes Shut, Paul Meloy (PS Publishing)
Spin, Nina Allan (TTA Press)
Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle, Nina Allan (Rustblind and Silverbright)
Whitstable, Stephen Volk (Spectral Press)

Best Short Story
Chalk, Pat Cadigan (This Is Horror)
Death Walks En Pointe, Thana Niveau (The Burning Circus)
Family Business, Adrian Tchaikovsky (The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic)
The Fox, Conrad Williams (This Is Horror)
Golden Apple, Sophia McDougall (The Lowest Heaven)
Moonstruck, Karin Tidbeck (Shadows & Tall Trees #5)
Signs of the Times, Carole Johnstone (Black Static #33)

Best Collection
For Those Who Dream Monsters, Anna Taborska (Mortbury Press)
Holes for Faces, Ramsey Campbell (Dark Regions Press)
Monsters in the Heart, Stephen Volk (Gray Friar Press)
North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)

Best Anthology
End of the Road, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)
Fearie Tales, Stephen Jones (ed.) (Jo Fletcher Books)
Rustblind and Silverbright, David Rix (ed.) (Eibonvale Press)
Tales of Eve, Mhairi Simpson (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)
The Tenth Black Book of Horror, Charles Black (ed.) (Mortbury Press)

Best Small Press
The Alchemy Press (Peter Coleborn)
Fox Spirit Books (Adele Wearing)
NewCon Press (Ian Whates)
Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)

Best Non-Fiction
Gestalt Real-Time Reviews, D.F. Lewis
Doors to Elsewhere, Mike Barrett (The Alchemy Press)
Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin (ed.)
Speculative Fiction 2012, Justin Landon and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)
“We Have Always Fought”: Challenging the “Women, Cattle and Slaves” Narrative, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

Best Magazine/Periodical
Black Static, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace (ed.) (Wyrm Publishing)
Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Shadows & Tall Trees, Michael Kelly (ed.) (Undertow Books)

Best Comic/Graphic Novel
Demeter, Becky Cloonan (Becky Cloonan)
Jennifer Wilde, Maura McHugh, Karen Mahoney and Stephen Downey (Atomic Diner Comics)
Porcelain, Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose (Improper Books)
Rachel Rising, Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The Unwritten, Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Artist
Adam Oehlers
Ben Baldwin
Daniele Serra
Joey Hi-Fi
Tula Lotay
Vincent Chong

Best Film/Television Episode
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, Steven Moffat (BBC)
Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (Warner Bros)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro (Warner Bros)
Iron Man 3, Drew Pearce and Shane Black (Marvel Studios)

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)
Ann Leckie, for Ancillary Justice (Orbit)
Emma Newman, for Between Two Thorns (Angry Robot)
Francis Knight, for Fade to Black (Orbit)
Laura Lam, for Pantomime (Strange Chemistry)
Libby McGugan, for The Eidolon (Solaris)
Samantha Shannon, for The Bone Season (Bloomsbury)

* * * * *
In further Awards news, it should also be noted (because we didn't do so at the time), that SOLARIS RISING 2: THE NEW SOLARIS BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by Ian Whates (from Solaris Books) was a "Finalist for the 2013 Philip K Dick Award".

More details can be found here

Monday, 2 June 2014

The NSFWG Top 50 SF Films

Earlier this year, as we were discussing items for the blog, NSFWG chairman Ian Whates suggested the group could put together some "Top 10" style lists.  We agreed, decided to do SF Films first (fantasy and horror to come!) and everyone went off and created their own list.  These were collated (there are twelve of us in the group) and the films ranked.

This is that list, with the films grouped by ranking (ie, the winner got 8 votes) and then listed chronologically by release dates.

Do you agree, disagree, think we missed something?  Then leave a comment!




ALIEN (1979)



LOGAN'S RUN (1976)
ALIENS (1986)


The War of the Worlds (1953)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Star Wars (1977)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Back to the Future (1985)
Total Recall (1990)
Strange Days (1995)
Men in Black (1997)    
The Matrix (1999)

Forbidden Planet (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Silent Running (1972)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Inception (2010)

Scanners (1981)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Mars Attacks (1996)
Event Horizon (1997)
The Fifth Element (1997)
Starship Troopers (1997)
Minority Report (2002)
Children of Men (2006)
Sunshine (2008)
District 9 (2009)

The Lost World (1960)
The Thing (1982)
Brazil (1985)
Predator (1987)          
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Alien vs Predator (1993)
Waterworld (1995)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Independence Day (1996)
Dark City (1998)
Moon (2009)